Teaching: it’s The Cake and the Frosting

Our everyday learning in the classroom reminds me of a big cake. The necessary ingredients are science, math, reading, writing, language, geography and the arts. A cake is mixed by hand, just as our learning is hands-on.

And, the frosting? That’s our unit of study. It’s the fun, the glorious way to encase and show off our cake. Italy is a beautiful frosting. So was the Rainforest, and Hawaii, and India, and Jan Brett. Regardless of the frosting, or our unit of study, there is always a cake and the important learning that happens.

I thought you might like to taste some of the recent ‘cake batter’:

Reading and letter recognition, a daily constant, had an “ah-hah moment” when we read the book Froggy goes to Hawaii. The word ‘Froggy’ is in big letters on many of the pages, followed by an exclamation mark which we had just learned about. That sparked a huge interest in recognizing letters and actually sounding out words. Since then, every time we read a book that has some of the words in large print, such as Toot, Toot, Zoom or My Truck is Stuck (Literacy Tree books); we are obsessed with both recognizing the letters and sounding out the words. We then find rhyming words and sound them out.

Writing has become a popular activity. We use ‘Handwriting Without Tears’ with emphasis on the terminology of ‘lines’ and ‘curves’ and using those shapes to create letters. September introduced Mat Man, and last week our Italy writing activity had children so ready, it looked like the line at the deli counter. Children practice writing their name on paper with three lines, therefore three practices. We used a vertical surface to make the map of Italy and a pizza parlor tablecloth, and our paintings for the Art Show are done at an easel. All of these activities on a vertical surface are developing the muscles needed for writing.

Geography is highlighted so many times with studying different countries. The best part is, every time we pull out our Big Book Atlas, we become sidetracked and learn even more. We have learned about the equator, the poles, and the oceans. Children are always drawn to the map of the United States, and the learning keeps flowing. We have used the atlas to track the travels of Dr. Dolittle, and we’ll be tracking the travels of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Math and Science has been exciting with the hatching of twenty baby chicks in the kindergarten.  The circle of life is in full glory.  Our favorite science fair activity was using a hair blow dryer to blow ping pong balls into the air and keep them steady.

Of course you know that Art and Music has been a major contributor to our ‘cake batter’ as the children made significant pieces of art, inspired by music, for our annual art show.  I bumped into a former student (now going into kindergarten) who told me she was in Washington DC last week and visited the National Gallery of Art.  I was there, too!  We marveled at the coincidence.  Then she said, “I saw the Mary Cassatt”.  I did, too!  She said, “Jennie, I saw the flower painting we learned about.”  Wow!

My classroom makes the best cakes and frostings!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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17 Responses to Teaching: it’s The Cake and the Frosting

  1. Lisa Besse says:

    Any teacher who can make a classroom come alive and make children stretch their learning to different venues is wonderful! Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I love you!

  2. hivebee2015 says:

    Teachers encourage children to be better people. Great Read!

  3. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    I recently reread this wonderful post, and I wanted to share it. It shows why teaching is both valuable and delightful.

  4. sjhigbee says:

    Your class are so fortunate to have you as their teacher…

  5. Hmm.. must have something to do with the love and dedication of the head chef!

  6. Such an interesting way of looking at teaching. You are cooking up some very flavorful lives. 🙂

  7. I just wonder what I didn’t have a teacher like you when I was in elementary school! I didn’t see this post before and I really love the way you presented it, with the frosting too! Karen 🙂

  8. What a great metaphor! I love cake and I love teaching! Had never connected them together like that before, what a lovely post! ❤

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